Kilifi fishermen call for a share of blue economy project

Fishmongers at the Kilifi Old Ferry. Fishermen have decried low catches that they say have pushed up the prices of fish.

Photo credit: Maureen Ongala I Nation Media Group

Fisherman in Kilifi County want the Sh10 billion Kenya Marine Fisheries Socio-Economic Development Project to be rolled out quickly so that they can improve their incomes.

The project, unveiled in June last year, sought to improve the income of fishing communities along the Kenyan coast.

The fishermen say they are yet to benefit from the World Bank-supported project at a time when their earnings have reduced due to harsh weather coupled with rough tides that have contributed to scarcity of fish in the Indian Ocean.

Ms Halima Mbaruk, a fishmonger, said they are looking forward to the project’s implementation.

About seven groups from the Kilifi Central Beach Management Unit (BMU) applied for funds.

“We have followed up the money from the officers at the grassroots since last year, and every time we are told to be patient. But time is moving, and we are suffering, as the money could have helped us address the challenges of poor fishing equipment, among other basic needs,” she added.

Fishermen have decried low catches that they say have pushed up the prices of fish.

Ms Mbaruk also said that the high cost of cooking oil and the high price of fish has made life more difficult for them.

Fishmongers buy a kilogram of fish for between Sh250 and Sh300, up from Sh150.

In an interview at the Kilifi old ferry crossing, Mr Chai Mkoka, from Maya Island, said bad weather is always a challenge as they struggle to earn a living.

“Tides are very high, which makes venturing deep into the ocean a dangerous activity. It is hard to have a good catch like other days when the weather is normal,” he said.

Speaking when he launched the project in Mombasa, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the opportunity provided by the project must be exploited to generate investments, create jobs, increase tax revenues and improve local livelihoods.

He emphasised the need to commercialise the country’s marine resources for the benefit of Kenyans by creating well thought out strategic national systems to ensure that more than 300,000 metric tonnes of fish are landed annually and to create at least 60,000 jobs in the next 10 years.
 

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